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Not Ours Alone

Not Ours Alone: Patrimony, Value, and Collectivity in Contemporary Mexico

Elizabeth Emma Ferry
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Not Ours Alone
    Book Description:

    Elizabeth Ferry explores how members of the Santa Fe Cooperative, a silver mine in Mexico, give meaning to their labor in an era of rampant globalization. She analyzes the cooperative's practices and the importance of patrimonio (patrimony) in their understanding of work, tradition, and community. More specifically, she argues that patrimonio, a belief that certain resources are inalienable possessions of a local collective passed down to subsequent generations, has shaped and sustained the cooperative's sense of identity.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50714-1
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    June Nash

    In her book Elizabeth Emma Ferry presents an impressive argument that residents in the historic mining community of Guanajuato, Mexico, are committed to a collective identity related to the mining wealth still active in that industry’s declining economy. The residents’ assertion of the enduring value of place and religion is another instance of the persistence of local identity with place, despite the assumptions of disjuncture in a globalizing economy. With the decline in the mining economy, the tourist industry replacing it attracts visitors as much with the area’s history of mining as with the religious architecture that survives from the...

    (pp. xvii-xxii)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Introduction: Inalienability, Value, and Collectivity
    (pp. 1-21)

    In 1936 a series of articles came out in the Guanajuato paper El Noticioso concerning the destruction of a chapel on the grounds of the Rayas mine dedicated to the mine’s patron saint, San Juan de Rayas. The articles deplored the fact that the Guanajuato Reduction and Mines Company had virtually destroyed this chapel several years earlier. They had removed the floor pavings and interior walls to use in making a bridge at the nearby processing plant and, shamefully, had melted down the chapel bell to sell as raw silver. Worse still, the local authorities had allowed these acts to...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Santa Fe Cooperative in Guanajuato, Mexico
    (pp. 22-54)

    In order to examine the workings of patrimony in the Santa Fe Cooperative we need a vivid sense of the Cooperative as a set of places, inhabited by people, and punctuated by events that organize time in meaningful ways. After describing the Santa Fe Cooperative and its mines, I turn my attention to these aspects of Cooperative life, describing three places where I concentrated my study, five people with whom I worked closely and who represent different sectors of the membership, and four events that encapsulate aspects of the religious and civic life of the Cooperative and the city, the...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Labor, History, and Historical Consciousness
    (pp. 55-74)

    The negotiations with respect to resource allocation and relations of power that exist in the Santa Fe Cooperative do not arise in a vacuum; they are born of long-standing economic arrangements, labor traditions, and legal and political institutions operating in Mexico since the beginning of the colonial period (and in some cases before then). This chapter traces some of these patterns and institutions, focusing on two key aspects of the context within which Cooperative uses of patrimony take place.

    First, I look at how patrimony is construed by those who make use of it as integral to the history of...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Recent Challenges and Responses
    (pp. 75-99)

    In this book I argue that members of the Santa Fe Cooperative produce and negotiate a language of patrimony that helps them to confront the political and economic challenges they face. This language, a local version of a powerful national idiom (see chapter 8), posits patrimony as a category that includes the products of the mines, the mines themselves, and Cooperative jobs. Current Cooperative members have received these possessions from past generations and have a responsibility to pass them on to their children and grandchildren.

    However, the value of all these ideally inalienable possessions depends on the actual alienability of...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Realms of Patrimony: Mine and House
    (pp. 100-138)

    How do Cooperative members and their families deploy and order patrimony in the domains of mineral production and social and sexual reproduction, particularly in the mine and the house? Productive and reproductive practices in these spaces organize patrimonial possessions and ascribe difference in locally specific ways (especially between underground and surface, male and female, and Cooperative and newcomer/outsider).

    Production and reproduction express the “conceptual schemes immanent in practice” that order power and difference in the Cooperative (Bourdieu 1977:118).¹ I focus especially on two spaces of production and reproduction, the mine and the house. Within these spaces, local difference and differential...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Patrimony, Power, and Ideology
    (pp. 139-171)

    In chapter 5 I described mining and domestic practices in the Cooperative and the relationship of these activities to patrimony. Within this conceptualization, linked practices of production and reproduction in the gendered spaces of mine and household generate patrimonial possessions. Current generations receive them from their fathers and have a responsibility both to produce more patrimony (silver) and to reproduce new generations of Cooperative workers (sons and grandsons). This conception of patrimony lies beneath ideas of the proper or legitimate behavior of workers and jefes (bosses; chiefs), men and women, and fathers and sons; each of these has particular rights...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Veins of Value, Rocks of Renown: An Anthropology of Mined Substances
    (pp. 172-198)

    As the Cooperative’s most important product, silver condenses many of the meanings and practices associated with patrimony; it thus forms a major focus of my study. In this chapter I look at how silver is valued along with other mined substances that are not considered patrimonial by Cooperative members. This perspective allows me to focus attention on the practice and consequences of assigning different kinds of value to objects at different moments rather than beginning with already established categories such as “commodity,” “gift,” or “inalienable possession,” as other theorists of value have done.

    Two different mined substances produced in the...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Mexican Languages of Patrimony: Land, Subsoil,“Culture”
    (pp. 199-216)

    Having examined the uses of patrimony by members of the Santa Fe Cooperative, their families, and other Guanajuatenses in some depth, we are now in a position to see how these uses play into and partake of broader national-level conversations and practices. The dense webs of meaning entailed in practices of mining, reproduction, and resource allocation help to explain patrimony’s force in the Santa Fe and suggest sources for its vitality in other Mexican domains. Insights gained from the examination of these practices can be used to suggest how patrimony works elsewhere in Mexico, where the practice of characterizing possessions...

  13. CHAPTER 9 Conclusion: Not Whose Alone?
    (pp. 217-223)

    Along with its working mines and mills, the Santa Fe Cooperative also received a large amount of nonworking mining properties and land when the Guanajuato Reduction and Mines Company ceded its holdings to the workers in 1938. One of these holdings was the magnificent ruin of the mine of Guadalupe, located above the Valenciana mine in the northern part of Guanajuato. The Guadalupe is located in an area where poor dwellings inhabited by miners and those who sell minerals and trinkets share the hillside with luxury villas, including the estate of Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, who was rector of the...

  14. APPENDIX I Historical Silver Prices from 1975 to 2002
    (pp. 224-224)
  15. APPENDIX II Aspects of Mineral Production in the Santa Fe Cooperative
    (pp. 225-234)
  16. NOTES
    (pp. 235-252)
    (pp. 253-268)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 269-274)